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Appeals court halts execution of Texas prisoner at 11th hour

A federal appeals court on Wednesday halted the execution of a Texas inmate less than eight hours before he was to be put to death.

The lawyer for convicted killer Scott Panetti said he is mentally ill and his death by lethal injection should be stopped. He was sentenced to death in 1995 for fatally shooting his estranged wife’s parents at their home in the Texas Hill Country.

Panetti, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1978, acted as his own attorney at his trial, taking on different personalities and calling for the pope and Jesus Christ to serve as witnesses.

In 1986, the Supreme Court said states may not execute prisoners whose insanity means they can’t understand why they’re being executed. In 2002, the high court prohibited the execution of the mentally impaired.

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